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Willard Cleon Skousen was a prolific popularizer among Latter-day Saints (Mormons) of their theology
| From Commie Basher To Rock 'n Roll Trasher: The Legacy Of The Late, Latter-Day Looney Cleon Skousen |
Saturday, Jan 21, 2006, at 09:34 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: CLEON SKOUSEN -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| W. Cleon Skousen was, without a doubt, a real piece of work who, despite his schmoozings of top Mormon leadership, ultimately became an official LDS embarrassment |
In the wake of Skousen's recent death, below are some observations assembled from my personal Ezra Taft Benson and Skousen files (combined with research from other sources in my home library) on Skousen's colorful, controversial life and his bizarre mix of apocalyptic religious/political beliefs:
CLEON CLINGS ON TO McKAY: SKOUSEN'S INSIDE TRACK WITH THE MORMON CHURCH HIERARCHY
President David O. McKay's Official Mormon Church Blessing of Skousen's Radical Right-wing Agenda
In 1962 LDS General Conference, McKay recommended that members of the Church avail themselves of Skousen’s book, The Naked Communist, declaring:
“I admonish everybody to read that excellent book of [former FBI agent and then-Salt Lake City Police] Chief Skousen’s.”
(David O. McKay, “Preach the Word,” Improvement Era, 62 [December 1959], p. 912, quoted in D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], p. 82)
In his officially Mormon-blessed book, Skousen warned readers to be on the alert against a worldwide Marxist revolution dedicated to:
. . . “the total annihilation of all opposition, the downfall of all existing governments, all economies and all societies,” through the creation of “a regimented breed of Pavlovian men whose minds could be triggered into immediate action by signals from their masters.”
To fight the international Red menace, Skousen extolled Brigham Young University as a pre-eminent religious training ground in the “war of ideologies” and urged concerned parents:
“We should not sit back and wait for our boys and girls to be indoctrinated with materialistic dogma and thereby make themselves vulnerable to a Communist conversion when they are approached by the agents of force and fear who come from across the sea.”
(W. Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist [Salt Lake City, Utah: Ensign Publishing Company, 1958], pp. 2, 377-378)
SKEPTICAL OF SKOUSEN'S RABID RADICALISM: AN OPPOSING NON-MORMON VIEW
Shining an altogether different light on Skousen’s work, Richard Dudam, author of the book, Men of the Far Right, wrote:
“Skousen’s book, The Naked Communist, is a Bible of the right-wing movement and is promoted heavily by many of the extremist groups. In it, he asserts that the first Russian sputnik was built with plans stolen from the United States after World War II and that President Batista, the former Cuban dictator, was really a sincere, pro-labor, popular ruler.
"Skousen advises legislators to overthrow Supreme Court restrictions on actions against persons suspected of being communists. He urges businessmen . . . to seek help from the American Security Council [a Chicago-based group of ‘right-wing military men and businessmen’ that operated ‘a private loyalty-security blacklist where employers could check their employees and job applicants for indications of left-wing connections.’]”
SKOUSEN'S BEWILDERING BACKGROUND
Salt Lake City’s Fired Totalitarian Police Chief
Skousen was removed from his post as Salt Lake’s police chief by then-city mayor J. Bracken Lee, who called him “an incipient Hitler” who “ran the [SLC] police department in exactly the same manner as the Communists in Russia operate their government.”
(Dudman, Men of the Far Right [New York, New York: Pyramid Books, 1962], pp. 127-28)
Super Supporter of Far-Right Anti-Communist Crusades
Skousen was an active barnstormer and speaker for Fred C. Schwartz’s ”Christian Anti-Communist Crusade.” Life Magazine noted that Schwartz “preached doomsday by Communism in 1973 unless every American starts distrusting his neighbor.”
(Dudman, pp. 8, 118)
Diehard Defender of the John Birch Society Against Alleged International Communist Plotters
Although not an official member of the John Birch Society, Skousen was a die-hard supporter, serving as an active cohort in its “American Opinion Speakers Bureau,” which included among its Far Right allies my uncle and high-ranking Birch Society officer, Reed Benson.
(Benjamin R. Epstein and Arnold Forster, Report on the John Birch Society 1966, [New York, New York: Vintage Books, 1966], p. 95.
In 1963, Skousen published a pamphlet, “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society,” in which he claimed that the Birch Society had been “dishonestly ridiculed and smeared at the instigation of the international Communist conspiracy.”
He further claimed that the Birch Society was “marked for annihilation because it was becoming highly successful in awakening the American people.”
He also accused Americans who criticized the Bircher Society as “promoting the official Communist party line.”
(Skousen, “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Ensign Publishing Company, 1963], pp. 11-12)
SKOUSEN'S INCENDIARY CLAIM THAT COMMUNISTS WERE BEHIND ATTACKS ON THE MORMON CHURCH'S RACIST ANTI-BLACK DOCTRINE
In 1970, amid growing college protests against BYU sports teams for the LDS Church’s anti-Black priesthood policy, Skousen published a tabloid featuring the screaming headline, “The Communist Attack on the Mormons.”
The article asserted that:
" . . . [Professional] Communist-oriented revolutionary groups have been spearheading the wave of protests and violence directed toward Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church,” [employing] “Marxism and Maoism as their ideological base and terror tactics as their method . . .”
Skousen warned that Communists were plotting to manipulate press reports into depicting the Mormon Church as being “rich, priest-ridden, racist, super-authoritarian and conservative to the point of being archaically reactionary.”
He claimed that, in fact, the Mormon Church was one of the Communists’ “prime TARGETS FOR ATTACK” because it is “STRONGLY PRO-AMERICAN” and that the ‘Negro-priesthood issue” was being used as a “SMOKESREEN” to “further their ulterior motives.”
Citing Ezra Taft Benson’s speech, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception,” he warned that Communist-inspired assaults on the Mormon Church were designed to:
" . . . create resentment and hatred between the races by distorting the religious tenet of the Church regarding the Negro and blowing it up to ridiculous proportions."
(“Special Report by National Research Group,” American Fork, Utah, 84003, March 1970, p. 1, emphasis in original)
SKOUSEN'S FOUNDING OF THE EXTREMIST, BOOK OF MORMON-BASED FREEMAN INSTITUTE AND HIS SOLICITATION OF EZRA TAFT BENSON'S SUPPORT
Skousen eventually established the Freeman Institute in Provo, Utah. The group derived its name from the Book of Mormon “freemen” and initially drew many Mormon Birchers into its ranks. My father, Mark Benson, was the Institute’s “Vice President in Charge of Development” and my grandfather formally spoke to its members.
(Quinn, pp. 109-111).
SKOUSEN'S DIRE WARNING TO EZRA TAFT BENSON OF AN INTERNATIONAL SCHEME FOR ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT, ORCHESTRATED BY WALL STREET BANKERS
In a letter sent to my grandfather (which, despite its form fundraising format, my grandfather marked in red pen with a handwritten notation, “Confidential”), Skousen warned:
". . . [The] so-called ‘Council on Foreign Relations’ [has been] “set up . . . to groom ambitious one-world political personalities for leadership in all major departments of the American government from the President on down. . . .
“Their latest triumph was the election of Jimmy Carter. . . .”
Skousen ominously claimed that “members of the Establishment have directed foreign policy from Wall Street in the past.” He told my grandfather that because of President Gerald R. For, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and other “master-planners,” the “foreign-policy establishment of Wall Street bankers and lawyers . . . moved into the very heart of the Establishment and took over.”
Skousen further declared:
“I wonder how people who say there is ‘no such thing as a conspiracy’ will deal with this one?”
He also forewarned Ezra Taft Benson that the one-world planners intended to celebrate the upcoming “200 anniversary of the United States Constitution by scrapping it.”
In an apocalyptic conclusion to his letter, Skousen, under the sub-heading “We Need Millions of Freeman,” told my grandfather:
“I don’t know how all this affects you, but it puts a fire in my veins. I hope that in this coming year we can double or triple the number of Freeman and eventually we can challenge these advocates of world serfdom and drive them out of power. . . . I pray it will happen soon. And we must do everything we can to help make it happen. That’s what you are helping to accomplish, and I am grateful to you for your support.
“See you next month!”
(W. Cleon Skousen, letter to “Elder Benson,” January 1977, copy in my possession)
SKOUSEN'S FULL-THROATED ASSAULT ON SATANIC ROCK MUSIC--WITH EZRA TAFT BENSON'S FULL-HEARTED ENCOURAGEMENT
In my personal library I discoverd a book that once belonged to my grandfather entitled, Rock 'N' Reality: Mirrors of Rock Music--Its Relationship to Sex, Drugs, Family and Religion, by Mormon author and BYU graduate E. Lynn Balmforth [Hawkes Publications: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1971].
My grandfather apparently had a special fondness for this thin, paperback volume. He had signed his name in his big, flamboyant style above the title on the front cover, along with noting in the upper right-hand corner of same, "Return to E.T.B." He further autographed the inside of the front cover, along with noting the date--February 18, 1972--that he received it. He very much seemed to want to make sure he never lost it.
The book's "Preface" was authored by Skousen, obviously one of Ezra Taft Benson's closest ideological allies. My grandfather had dog-earred the first page of that section and underlined several of its passages in ballpoint pen.
In the left-hand margin next to the third and fourth paragraphs of the first page, respectively, he wrote the words "on card" and "card," indicating that he wanted these particular passages transferred to his typed card file, which he used as a sermon resource.
My grandfather highlighted, via underlining and/or margin brackets, the following from Skousen's words of warning:
"We've combined youth, music, sex, drugs, and rebellion with treason!'
"This was the way Jerry Rubin, chieftain of the Yippies, described the current assault on America's up-coming generation in his book, DO IT!
"Later, in a speech at Salt Lake City, Utah, he said: 'Rock 'n' Roll is the center of the Revolution!'
"Americans are well aware that there has been a revolution. In morals. In manners. In speech. In crime rates. In riots. In violence. In drugs. In sex. In pornography. In politics. In movies. In education. In music.
"What most of us failed to realize at the moment was how important the music revolution would become. It turned out to be the catalyst for all the rest. It became the prod to promote drugs, the advertiser of sex in the hedonism manner, the mind-conditioner for four-letter gutter speech, and eventually the blatant propaganda funnel for political subversion. It also became the seductive Jezebel for a modern philosophy of no God, of Man as merely a graduate beast of the jungle, of Jesus Christ as a phoney actor--a superstar, of peace and prosperity being possible only under communism, of America as the enemy of the world, of Russia as the hope of the world."
Turning the page, Skousen continued his tirade against rock music, while my grandfather's marking pen took a momentary break:
"Just as a sampler, here are the lyrics to America's number-one-hit-recording at the moment of this writing. It is by John Lennon and is called, 'Imagine.'
'Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people,
Living for today.
'Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.
'Imagine no possessions.
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger--
A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world.
'You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us,
And the world will be as one.'"
Skousen continued his message of clear-and-present danger:
"I observe that many young people have taken from this song only the theme of 'brotherhood' and 'all the world for all the people.'"
At this point, Ezra Taft Benson's marking pen picked up again, as he underlined Skousen's next words:
"However, the professional debunkers who were behind the engineering of this song took colossal satisfaction from the fact that they are succeeding in getting tens of millions of young Americans to mouth the artfully planted brain teasers of 'no heaven,' 'no hell,' 'above us only sky,' 'no countries,' 'nothing to kill or die for,' 'no religion,' 'no possessions,' and 'all the world as one.'"
At this point, my grandfather's marking notes temporarily ceased, as Skousen climatically rolled forth:
"Yes, it's turning out to be quite a revolution."
Skousen somberly concluded the "Preface" with this gloomy prediction, highlighted once more by Ezra Taft Benson's pen:
"The problem expertly treated in ths book by Mr. Balmforth is of historical significance. This problem may turn out to be a major factor which contributed to the downfall of civilization."
THE MORMON CHURCH FINALLY PUTS OFFICIAL DISTANCE BETWEEN ITSELF AND SKOUSEN
Following McKay’s death, the LDS Church “found it necessary to counter the now-familiar pattern of Mormon ultra-conservatives to imply church endorsement.”
(Quinn, p. 110)
In a letter “[t]o All Stake Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in the United States,” the First Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball dictated the following, gingerly-worded order:
“It has come to our attention that in some areas announcements have been made in Church meetings of lectures to be given by those connected with the Freemen Institute. This is to inform you that no announcements should be made in Church meetings of these, or other similar, lectures or events that are not under the sponsorship of the Church.
“This instruction is not intended to express any disapproval of the right of the Freemen Institute and its lecturers to conduct such meetings or of the contents of the lectures. The only purpose is to make certain that neither Church facilities nor Church meetings are used to advertise such events and to avoid any implication that the Church endorses what is said during such lectures.”
(letter from the Office of the First Presidency, Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 15 February 1979, copy in my possession)
| Here is an excellent article from Salon from a few years ago at this link.
"Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck’s life - Cleon Skousen was a right-wing crank whom even conservatives despised. Then Beck discovered him."
It discusses how Glenn Beck was deeply influenced by Skousen's conspiracy theory wackiness. Beck even claimed that Skousen is his favorite author and through his advertising made Skousen's 5000 Year Leap a best seller.
The article describes how Skousen, a far right-wing hack, created his own apocalyptic view of a vast Communist conspiracy and, with the help of Joseph Fielding Smith, Ezra Taft Benson, and Bruce R McConkie, he was able to yank the church sharply to the far right side of the political spectrum.
There are some interesting tidbits about Skousen's life. For instance:
-J Edgar Hoover maintained a 2,000 page FBI file on Skousen and considered him an extreme right wing threat to the Republic.
-Skousen worked in the FBI for 15 years which he claimed allowed him to see the top secret information that detailed the vast Communist conspiracy. However, the FBI said that he mostly did clerical work and that he was never trusted with high level information.
-J Bracken Lee, the ultraconservative mayor of SLC in the 50s, hired Skousen to be the police chief, but fired him after four years because he was excessively zealous in raiding clubs where the Mormon elite indulged their vices. He said that "Skousen conducted his office as Chief of Police in exactly the same manner in which the Communists operate their government. The man is a master of half-truths. In at least three instances I have proven him to be a liar. He is a very dangerous man [and] one of the greatest spenders of public funds of anyone who ever served in any capacity in Salt Lake City government."
-Skousen published The Naked Communist which claimed that a vast conspiracy was on the verge of turning America into the USSR. He became a star on the far right lecture circuit and made serious money touring the John Birch Society and other far right groups.
-Skousen claimed that Harry Hopkins, FDR's advisor, gave the Soviet Union half of America's supply of uranium and 50 suitcases of nuclear secrets. This was ridiculous of course.
-Skousen became so nutty, that he was banned from the ultraconservative American Security Council. One member, Judge Mott, said that Skousen was "money mad … totally unqualified and interested solely in furthering his own personal ends."
-In 1969, Skousen found a new enemy. He decided that the world was under threat by a "New World Order" of the ultra-rich and powerful. He distributed books to all the faculty at BYU describing this menace. Skousen became one of the first proponents of the New World Order conspiracy theory.
-Skousen cited anti-Semites and former Nazis in claiming that the American banking system (and its Jews) were dedicated to destroying capitalism and forcing the world to become a collectivist society.
-One of Skousen's main sources was a man named Carroll Quigley. However, Quigley claimed that he meant to critique extremists like Skousen. In fact, he said, “Skousen’s personal position seems to me perilously close to the ‘exclusive uniformity’ which I see in Nazism and in the Radical Right in this country. In fact, his position has echoes of the original Nazi 25-point plan.”
-Rob Lauer, a leader of the Reform Mormonism Movement, said “Skousen worked to change Mormonism from a new and unique American-born faith into an evangelical form of fundamentalist Christianity."
This was an interesting article. It is disturbing that a nutjob like Skousen would have so much influence on church leaders and members. Skousen is the genesis of many of the most dangerous far right wing ideas in the church. Anyone who wants to understand why many Mormons are outliers on the political spectrum must understand this man.
| Mormonism And Education, Glenn Beck Style, Romney Connection, Link |
Monday, Oct 15, 2012, at 07:33 AM
Original Author(s): Once More
Topic: CLEON SKOUSEN -Link To MC Article-
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| Mormonism and education, Glenn Beck style, Romney connection, link.
What is it with mormons and their whacko approaches to education? Private enterprise + mormonism + Cleon Skousen = recipe for disaster (or at the very least, a recipe for teaching a warped worldview to college students).
Excerpt from article below:
In 2009, Mitt Romney... lent his star power to an unusual charitable project: celebrating right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck to raise money for an unaccredited Utah-based college, which was founded by acolytes of the late W. Cleon Skousen and promoted the work of this fringe conservative figure.
Much-touted by Beck, Skousen was an anti-communist crusader, a purported political philosopher, a historian accused of racist revisionism, and a right-wing conspiracy theorist. He contended that the Founding Fathers were direct descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, claimed that a global cabal of bankers controlled the world from behind the scenes, and wrote a book that referred to the "blessings of slavery."
Skousen, who died in 2006, taught Romney at Brigham Young University.
Romney praised Beck and this school.
Video also available at the link.
I'll take "Failure to Exercise Good Judgement."
These Glenn Beckian institutions benefit from lack of oversight.
More excerpts from the article linked in the OP:
"Every boy should know that masturbation may be the first step to homosexuality." -- Cleon Skousen
Another excerpt from the article:
"If the pickaninnies ran naked it was generally from choice, and when the white boys had to put on shoes and go away to school they were likely to envy the freedom of their colored playmates." -- Cleon Skousen
While promoting The Making of America, Skousen called for eliminating a host of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency; for selling off national parks; for ending the direct election of US senators; and for weakening the separation of church and state.
In a 2007 radio interview, Romney said that he had not read The Making of America, but that it was "worth reading." Romney cited another Skousen book to explain Mormon theology regarding the second coming of Christ. In another radio interview that year, Romney recalled taking a class at BYU on the Bible taught by Skousen, whom he called "a brilliant man and a wonderful story teller."
"In a 1970 article, Skousen, who was active with the John Birch Society, claimed that criticism of the Mormon church for prohibiting African Americans from its priesthood was nothing but a communist conspiracy against the church."
And in good news:
"GWU has recently closed its doctorate program, and this spring announced that it was abandoning ambitious plans for the new campus. Its main building in Cedar City is for sale, and the school is now operating out of an office suite in Salt Lake City. Enrollment is down to a mere 60 students."
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